Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Sergeant Amanda Clawson-Walker with the Rock Springs Police Department. Sergeant Clawson-Walker has been serving on the RSPD since 2003. She was one of the department’s K9 handlers for many years, working with K9 Zorro and K9 Akina.
In 2020, Clawson-Walker was promoted to Sergeant, where she then took on a patrol crew to supervise. Throughout her career, she has found that she never stops learning about law enforcement. It is clear that she has a passion for her work, bringing integrity and empathy into her role as a law enforcement officer. The Rock Springs Police Department is lucky to have her, as is the community.
Amanda, how did you get into law enforcement?
I got into Law Enforcement in January 2001. Growing up it was the career field that intrigued me. The thought of having something new to do each day was the selling point. I was able to make some friendships with some officers in the late 90s and they talked about the career field and it seemed like a good fit for me. I could not wait to turn 21 so I could get going. I remember testing for the Rock Springs Police Department in 2000 when I was 20 years old and not making the list. Here is when I learned the lesson to keep trying and to never give up on your dreams.
Can you tell me about your career thus far?
When I graduated High School in 1998, I enlisted with the Wyoming National Guard and attended boot camp plus advanced individual training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I stayed in the military for a total of 10 years and moved to the United States Army where I did a few years in the Military Police. Being in the military taught me some core values that helped develop me into who I am today.
My Civilian Law Enforcement Career started in January 2001 when I attended the Law Enforcement Academy and started working in Evansville, Wyoming. It was there that I learned a lot, since the department was eight officers, which included the Chief. With EPD, you had to work your cases from start to finish, so no detective help. I worked there for two years, before I made my way back to Rock Springs.
It was December 2002 when I tested for RSPD, and after the background and all the other steps that come after initial testing was completed, I actually started in April 2003. I worked on the patrol division for a large portion of my career, which I blame on being a K9 handler for 12 years of it. Something I would never change, K9 was very enjoyable.
It was not until 2018 that I made the move into Detectives, which was a much larger challenge. It was in detectives that I learned to put a case together and tie up all the loose ends for the prosecution. I had no idea how much work it entailed and until I sat in that office, I thought they just sat around talking to each other.
Then in 2020, I tested for Sergeant and was promoted in February 2020. I then moved back to patrol and took on a patrol crew. Being in charge of a patrol crew had challenges and successes. My biggest enjoyment is mentoring and showing other officers how to complete tasks on the more complex cases. I also enjoy learning how they handle each case. I can say that I am always learning something.
What does your role as Sergeant entail?
Today, my role in the Police Department is supervising a patrol crew and working with them to accomplish the mission of the Rock Springs Police Department. I supervise them to make sure investigations are completed, reports are wrote and they are performing to the standard set by the police department.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The biggest thing I enjoy is making a difference in people’s lives. Even if I only change a few lives, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I recall a case that I worked where a person was sent to prison for several years on its conclusion. This person when they were released called into RSPD and asked if they could meet up with me. When we met up they thanked me for changing their life.
I am also empathetic toward others. I realized when I was younger that there are so many people in the world who are in need or who go without. By listening to their stories and helping them out, I can try to make a difference in their lives.
In 2016, I became an instructor for drug recognition and other classes that relate to driving while under the influence. I enjoy taking the knowledge I have gained over the last 20 years and teaching that to new officers.
Can you tell me about your time as a K9 handler?
I was a K9 Handler for 12 years and ended that in January 2016. I really enjoyed working with a K9 and seeing all the skills that they have to offer. It is truly amazing what a well-trained K9 can do. I also liked having that back up officer all the time. The two K9’s that I handled during my career are K9 Zorro and K9 Akina.
How did you end up in Rock Springs?
I ended up in Rock Springs, Wyoming because this is where I grew up and this is where my family lived. As my family developed, I wanted them to be around family also.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I appreciate the community support for the police department and the willingness of their help.
What are some of your hobbies?
Some hobbies that I have are that I like to go boating, wakeboard, exercise, motocross, camping and just being with my family and friends. The beach, I love the beach and one day after all the kids are grown, I want to move closer to.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Do something each day that makes you happy and smile at strangers, it could be the small token of kindness that they needed.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
My favorite place would definitely be the Flaming Gorge. Its close and you can go camping, boating and wakeboarding.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
I would want Mariska Hargitay, as she does such a good job in Law & Order Special Victims Unit. I hate cop shows, but love to watch this one.
What would you sing at karaoke?
Matthew West, Truth be Told. I feel that it speaks about life in so many ways.
How would your friends describe you?
They would say that I am a caring person, hard worker and knowledgeable about police work. I am a quiet and reserved person until I get to know you. If you can get me to start talking there is a lot of adventure that include things I have seen and been through.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
One of my proudest accomplishments is becoming a mother. I have three beautiful daughters, Kyleigh, Jadyn and Harper.
Another accomplishment is graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in social and criminal justice.
What is something unique about you?
Something unique about me is I am very forgiving. I hate to hold grudges and even if someone did me wrong, I don’t hold that against them and we move on.
Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?
Wyoming has lots of wide open space, it’s not crowded, and there is so much to do in the outdoors that anyone can enjoy.